…in the pants, just to make sure the new year knows who’s boss, what this girl expects and that she will not take the kinda crapola 2011 had the audacity of dishing out!
The Pirate and I just finished putting 600 miles on The Sponsor’s pickup truck. We’re home again; one of us garnished with a wee bit of winter grass, sporting a bald backside, the other feeling a little beat up and limp-wristed. One of us has a case of hay fever, the other doesn’t like laying around in the dirt. Comes to thinking about it, we both agree that a roll in the hay is greatly overrated.
I can’t think of a better way to start off the new year! Rebooting the system and resetting the speedometer! The Dynoworks Girls Day at JenningsGP!
Fear not, me squiddies, the full mission report will be turned in shortly.
I just came across a site I had stumbled upon months ago and had thankfully forgotten all about, until now. I don’t even remember how I happened to end up there. I was looking for something, but it damn sure wasn’t for racing leathers. I have two sets. Dainese. The black two-piece Dominia and the white one-piece Yu Lady. I need another race suit like Mr. Slow needs elbow sliders! I could unload the Dominia, since it’s way too big anyway… the thing retails for 1.005,-€ and that is before S&H, upgrades and customization. I would have to sell the Yu Lady, too. No! I love that suit; even though it is too short in the torso and just a tiny bit more room for the caboose wouldn’t hurt either. Now we know why they put those feel-good stretch panels everywhere. Those are for women to squeeze into the smaller sizes. 😉 It’s also too wide across the waist and I have ample room in the chest (and that’s the real reason I wear my chest protector, it endows with two extra cup sizes.)
Why must I be such an incorrigible gear whore?!? I don’t have this particular donna problema with my street clothes. Hell no, I still have shit hanging in my closet from the last millennium and I still wear some of it, too. I don’t keep up with fashion. I don’t wear designer clothes. So why in the heck do I need a new best-I-can-afford getup every year when it comes to motorcycle gear?!?
Is it vanity or personal safety? Maybe it’s both. Hell, I ride in my race leathers on the street, when I expect it to get a little “spirited”. Not unusual for European standards, but in the US people look at you funny, well they do around where I live anyway. But this is Georgia, a lot of riders around here don’t believe in gear. Helmet, boots, gloves. That’s about it; and those are listed in order of priority. The lid comes off as soon as the state line is crossed into South Carolina, cruiser riders are especially guilty of that last one. Do what you please, but it’s not for me. I can’t even make a decent u-turn without my gloves on my hands; the controls feel alien and I’m lacking a big chunk of confidence. I do better when I can trust my machine and my gear. But that’s just me. Am I weird? Maybe. But I do what it takes to keep my riding skill and confidence at its best, so when (not if) the shit hits the fan, I have a better chance of getting myself out of it with nothing more but a colorful story to tell. But that is a topic for a different article altogether.
I won’t be able to sleep tonight, I’ll be tossing and turning trying to figure out how I could manage to get my butt squeezed into some luxurious kangaroo hide. I would look so unassumingly gorgeous sitting on the grid straddling an equally beautiful S1000RR dressed in her candy red, metallic black, and pearlescent white Pirate skirts. Sparkles! Too bad that we’ll be gridded in the way back looking at everyone else’s tail pipes instead…
Fortunately I am tapped due to the upcoming race. I can’t be tempted (just yet).
Of course, Miss Busa gets options… Must. Have. Upgrades.
I amused myself at Gimoto’s site for a few hours, playing fashion designer. When I finally was bored enough to leave, I noticed a little Union Jack flag in the top right corner, next to Italy’s colors. DOH! Ah hell, my Italian needed a little refresher anyway. Because it’s just not very classy when all you have the vocabulary for is to tell Valentino Rossi what and where he can stick it, in his native language. Just not cool. Not that I would. Tell VR where to stick it, I mean. I would probably say something else, like…
“Mamma Mia! Guarda che bel culo che appende fuori quella moto.”
Merda! Damn Gryo Butt-Cam! I’ll be quiet now.
Mmmm… somebody call Il Dottore.
…cosa succede alla curva tre, soggiorni alla curva tre.
…we’re not going to have a good time.
I don’t know what it is about safety wiring, but the task seems overwhelming and insurmountable and a big pain in the backside when you think about it; not to mention it is confusing when you first are faced with a list of stuff to secure properly to pass Tech at a track. I’ve been procrastinating this safety wiring project for the better of six months and I finally decided to tackle the subject in small increments.
Let’s start off with the important stuff:
The Tools of the Trade
- Safety wire pliers: This is a specialty tool that is technically not necessary, since you could clip the wire to size with wire cutters and twist the stuff with a pair of needle nose pliers. Technically. Do yourself a favor and buy one of these puppies! You’ll thank me later. No, seriously! Miss Busa is making these mandatory!
- Safety wire: The thickest wire I am using is 0.041″ T-304 stainless steel marine-grade lock wire, which is a perfect match for those 1/16″ drill bits. However, I use various thicknesses for different applications. I also use 0.032″-diameter and 0.02″-diameter wire. The skinnier the wire, the easier it is to work with, but due to its lesser tensile strength, it’s more likely to break. I like to use the thick stuff for places that have to be wired and are very unlikely to have to be undone. A medium-thickness wire is a pretty good all-around choice and I use it for most of everything that needs to be wired up. The skinny wire is great for wiring up such things as grips and rearset components.
- Racing safety pins: Completely optional, but they make life at the track so much easier. I like to use these in places where the wiring has to be undone and redone quite often, such as the oil fill cap, the radiator cap, the oil filter, the rear axle nut. Pay attention to the rulebook though, you may not be able to use these in certain places; the oil drain plug would be a common exception to their allowed use.
- Tab washers aka safety wire washers: Also completely optional, but these make things much more enjoyable. Also keep some of these in your tool box, you’ll never know when some extra-anal white-gloved tech inspector wants you to secure this or that and now you’re hard pressed to fix the problem since your drill is at home, no anchor point is within reach and your day could have just went down the tubes if it weren’t for these little lifesavers. 🙂 I like to use them where points of attachments are difficult or too distant to be feasible. You use them like a washer, torque the fastener down onto them, then use pliers to bend the tabs up around the bolt’s head. You can then secure your safety wire to the tab that has the hole in it. Obviously, you cannot use them as anchor points for safety wiring the exact same bolt you are attaching them to. That would be silly.
- Safety wire drilling jig: This is another specialty tool and a must-have item if you do not have a drill press and have to manually drill the holes into the bolt heads. Miss Busa is making this a mandatory purchase as well! No whining. Just order the jig set when you order the pliers and the safety wire.
- QUALITY 1/16″ drill bits. I mean it. Buy junk and they’ll break or won’t get you all the way through to the other side before they turn dull and useless! I’ve bought some DeWalt 1/16″ Split Point Cobalt drill bits which are claimed to have “maximum life in metal” and are rumored to “start on contact”. I can attest to both of these statements being fairly accurate so far.
- Automatic (spring-loaded) punch: Mine was broken, so I had to make do without; which isn’t a big deal IF you bought the aforementioned QUALITY drill bits. Tell me you didn’t buy junk! This is an optional item, unless you didn’t listen and bought a ten-pack of “titanium nitrate” bits for $1.98, then it becomes mandatory. This tool is used to make a little indentation for your drill bit to sit in to get you started and to help prevent the bit walking all over the place while you attempt to do so.
- Drill: I have some housewife-grade cheapie by Black & Decker. Variable speed, quick-release chuck, reversible. It does me just fine with those DeWalt drill bits.
- Vise: You either have to have one of these or try and talk your buddy into holding the piece for you while you come at them with the drill. 😉 I use a little suction cup mounted articulated hobby vise I got at Harbor Freight. I have no garage or workshop, so this little guy is prefect for the occasional Tool Time session.
- If you’ve got the cash to burn and the workshop to go with it, you might want to forgo the whole vise-and-drill thing and go out and get yourself a decent drill press. Way more accurate and way quicker, but overkill if all you’ll be needing it for is drilling a few holes into bolt heads to stick some wire through. Have a friend who has one? Pack your crap, hop on your bike and go see him. Don’t forget the pizza and the beer.
- Cutting oil: If you’re trying to find “cutting oil” you’ll run yourself nutters. Some people use WD-40 to cool down their bits, others use machine oil, or multi-purpose 3-in-1 oil. You get the picture. You’ll need something to keep the drill bit from overheating and to ease its passage through some of the tougher stuff you’ll ever find yourself drilling holes through. If the bit gets too hot, it’ll break.
- Safety glasses: This goes without saying. A scratched eyeball hurts like hell and you can’t ride motorcycles when you’re half-blind. Put ’em on!
Let the Fun Commence
Today, I’m doing caps and calipers. Since I have a short attention span and find learning how to safety wire almost as coma-inducing as teaching myself suspension tuning, I can only handle this mess in short spurts. I already have my axles, oil filter, and oil drain plug done. I will have to write them up later. Fear not, as this comes together I will re-organize these posts and work them into a proper how-to. This is really just something to get you started, to give you time to gather up all the tools you’ll need and give you a general idea of what is coming. I will take the mystery out of this subject yet. Because this is one of these things: You’re totally lost when you see the list of junk in the rulebook you have to properly secure, some of it makes sense. Some of it is vaguely familiar and some of it has you drooling form the corner of the mouth, mumbling incoherently. “Oil gallery plugs” anybody? As luck would have it, those beyotches may be secured with RTV silicone; a girl can do that laying on her back in two minutes flat. 😉
- Always take the parts you need to drill off the bike. Before taking them off, a lot of people like to mark their fasteners when they are properly torqued, so they know where to drill the holes for the wire. Plan how you are going to wire up the fasteners that you are taking off. Remember that safety wiring has to tighten one bolt as another tries to come loose, so the tension should always be to the right of each fastener, which will route the twisted safety wire in an s-shape between them once two bolts are wired together. Plan on drilling your holes accordingly. Some people drill more than one set of holes for just that reason, but I bet those are the same peeps who also own one of those snazzy drill presses. (I will post pictures of every secured bolt on my bike when I’m done. A pic is worth a million words and a hundred google searches!)
- Secure the part in your vise. Make sure you don’t bend or break anything. Always wrap your part up in a shop towel or use soft vise pads to avoid damaging anything. That’s one reason I decided to thread the bolt into the drill jig, even though my vise has soft rubber-capped jaws. That’s not exactly how you’re supposed to use the thing, or is it?!?
- Mark your fastener with your automatic punch, if you have one.
- Put a drop of oil on the drill bit and on the bolt.
- Carefully start drilling, making sure that your drill bit stays put and doesn’t wander around. With the DeWalt bits I mentioned earlier this is not a problem, they stay put, even without a punch to mark the spot. Once you have the hole started, speed up the drill and add a little bit of pressure, not too much, though, if you bend the bit you’ll break it. Let the bit do the work for you. Be patient. You’ll see metal shavings piling up, I prefer to clean those out with cotton swabs, wipe the drill bit off and add some more oil, then I resume drilling. Each bolt took me about 5-6 minutes to drill. I didn’t break a single bit either. 🙂 Remember those “titanium” cheapies? Yeah, I tried those first. After 10 minutes of nothing much happening, I finally admitted defeat and changed to the DeWalt’s. A world of difference! The no-name bits are going to have to be re-dedicated to drilling holes into wood or styrofoam… they suck!
- I decided to drill straight through the bolt heads, using the first hole as a guide to start the second hole. I thought that this may be a mistake and would make me break a bit, but it worked like a dream. The holes are nice and clean and perfectly aligned, which will make wiring these up a cinch, no matter where they end up in relation to each other. And I did a way better job than the ex-BMW dealer did on my axle nut, if I dare say so myself.
- The caps were easy. I decided to drill the radiator cap from the back side, so in case the bit slipped I wouldn’t scratch up the “pretty side”. That was probably a mistake, since I had to use my Dremel to deburr the side the drill exited, which is probably going to cause it to rust. We shall see. If I had to do it over, I’d drill the holes front to back. I drilled both sides of the cap because I couldn’t remember which was the one I had decided to drill. Should have marked it, but thought I wouldn’t forget. I put the racing safety pin on the side that I’m betting on. We shall see if I didn’t drill that extra hole for nothing.
- The oil fill cap is plastic and was done in a few seconds. It took me longer to put the part in the vise. I decided to drill both sides, because the cap could end up at a number of different angles in relationship to the safety wire’s anchor point.
Mr. Slow, who is my personal PR manager (he brags about his wife behind her back) and track photographer (he takes pictures wherever he is, just so happens he found himself at a race track with a camera in his paws and bored out of his mind), has finally uploaded some pics to his site.
When he sent me the link, the first words out of my mouth were: “Just 43? You’re not done yet, I see.” His reply was: “No, baby. I am done. That’s the cream of the crop.” I beg to differ, but he has standards, whereas I do not. A serial killer puts more thought into choosing a memento than I do with track shots. As long as it isn’t blurry, I’m hanging onto it.
I paid $40 for the official track photographer’s CD, and it only had 22 photos on it. I purchased it for two reasons: I am a photo whore and I wanted to compare the quality between the track photographer’s shots and Papa Razzi’s. Papa Razzi won hands down. Where the track photographer had to divide their attention between everybody on the track, my husband only concentrated on me and later on also included a friend I had made at the school. Isn’t he sweet?
He said it basically came down to equipment rather than skill of the photographer. They used an older body but a $10K telephoto lens. Papa Razzi can’t afford pricey glass like that, because he has a high-performance woman on his bank roll, so he made up for the lack of optical zoom in resolution. He probably will tell me I have it wrong, but that’s how I understood it.
At any rate, check out Papa Razzi’s photos from the Ed Bargy Racing School and track day weekend at JenningsGP in Jennings, Florida. Tell him what you think. I think they’re awesome and competitive with some of the other photographers out there. But I’m about as biased about the quality of his photos as Mr. Slow is objective on the subject of how fine my rear end looks when it is hanging off the bike.
I spent the weekend at JenningsGP in Jennings, FL for some more instruction to hone my race craft, followed by a track day to work on stuff to set it in. I had a blast, and I showed some of those WERA experts how clean the inside of an S1000RR’s tailpipe is. 🙂
I promise I will write up the weekend as soon as possible.
I dropped 17 seconds off my game, started being more consistent in lap times and shredded one set of Dunlops.
Good times, good times.
I don’t think I’m going to make it. I feel unsure on my feet and generally unwell. My head hurts, I have sleep-deprivation induced nausea and I have to go to the doctor to score some medicine if it is indeed an ear infection. I have worked on prepping my bike all night. It was slow going since I kept having to take breaks to rest my body. The bike is not even ready yet. I still need to change the oil and flush the radiator to replace the antifreeze with distilled water with a properly measured shot of Water Wetter mixed in.
But first off to the see my doc. I almost fall asleep in the waiting room. Must. Stay. Awake. I feel shaky inside. My name is finally called and after enduring the nurse and her insistent need for vital signs I am sent to my room. I almost doze off waiting for Doc to put in his appearance. He finally does and as I straighten up to greet him a wave of dizziness hits me. I hate that. It throws me off balance and makes me feel icky. I call it “vertigo” but that’s not the right term. I explain myself to the man, he gives me a diagnostic rundown then tells me it’s my allergies that have caused fluid to buildup “in there” and that’s where my dizziness and momentary loss of sense of balance come from. He prescribes me antibiotics, don’t forget your doctor’s note, and be on your way.
Mr. Slow is trying to help me get the bike ready, but I’m too addled in the brain to form a complete sentence or make sense enough so he could follow what I’m trying to tell him. I have’t the energy. We end up yelling at each other and I’m so angrily exhausted now that I tell him where he can go and that it isn’t JenningsGP with me. I don’t need this shit, I’m flying solo. He disappears into the bedroom to get some sleep, since he, too, has been up all night at his job. Somebody has gotta drive. But he can’t sleep since we’re mad at each other.
Kiss and make up like a couple of zombies and back to work. I can’t get the damned oil filter off the bike, it takes two frustrating trips to the auto parts store to get a tool that actually works. My sleepy anger finally gets the thing off so the rest of the oil can drain out. I clean the cavity that accepts the screw-in filter, replace the oil drain plug gasket, screw the drain plug back in after cleaning it, torque it down and resecure it with safety wire. I screw in the new wrench-off K&N filter, hand tighten it as instructed, safety wire it using the hole provided and dump in four quarts of Motul synthetic race oil. When I get to the last quart I find I’m too tired to check the level half-way through the bottle. I crank up the bike, let the engine circulate the oil, shut it off and put in the rest. Four quarts out, four quarts in. Logical. I don’t exactly know if four quarts came out, since I spilled a bunch of it because my catch pan wasn’t big enough to cover the area between the drain bolt and the filter. Arrgh! Now I have to clean this mess up. I don’t have the oil spill stuff they have at work. It looks like kitty litter and is absorbent as hell… kitty litter… hmmm… I have some of that. I go inside and get a few scoops of Tidy Cats and it does the trick quite nicely.
On to the radiator flush. I can’t get the damned clamp off the hose coming out of the water pump. Lowest point on bike, only place I’m reasonably sure of that it’s a radiator line and not an oil line. I’m shooting from the hip here. Yikes…
I hate being so weak. And I hate hose-freaking-clamps! I am getting frustrated again. It’s going on two o’clock and I have yet to pack! I am saved by Joe who apparently got a power nap in. He gets the hose off and runs to the auto parts store again for some anti-seize. We get the radiator flushed and replace the antifreeze with Water Wetter mix.
Note to self: Sweep up kitty litter before you flush the radiator. The stuff turns to muck the color and consistency of wet concrete; and the whole point was not to have it end up in the sewer system. At least it wasn’t but a small amount. Crap! happens when you’re in Zombieland.
It’s almost four o’clock. I’m now feeling like death warmed over. I think I might be seeing things… I am starving, I hadn’t eaten since the evening before. I am dehydrated. The dizziness is getting worse.
Joe sets up the ramps and once they are properly secured I ride my bike up into the truck. Yes, I know. No riding bikes up ramps unless you are a professional on a closed course. I’m too short, my feet don’t touch the ground once the front wheel is a little ways up on the ramp. I do not trust myself to be able to hold the bike on the incline, so I just ride it up and get on the brakes right before I engage the wheel chock to make sure I’m properly aligned.
Now you know why I can’t get the blasted thing down on my own. I can’t walk it down, I would have to shove off and roll backwards across the angle where my feet cannot reach. That freaks me out. And I’m neither strong nor coordinated enough to walk my bike down, while standing to the right of it, trying to hold it upright and manipulating the front brake lever.
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a race trailer? All my friends have toy haulers, I must make amends.
After securing the bike, I take a shower, pack my clothes and personal stuff and we’re off to the races. Which race, you ask? The race against the time the gate closes. If we don’t make it there before then, we’re sleeping outside on the side of the road. We still have to stop at “Little China” to pick up extra tie downs and a few other essentials, including the medicine my doctor had called in. After inhaling a veggie burger meal from Burger King and downing a bottle of water and my Diet Coke, I curl up in the passenger seat and try to sleep.
Sick and tired and I’m going to go do what? Yes, I seem to have the Darwinian gene: “Hey y’all come watch this!”
I just received a phone call from Mr. Slow. Sad news for his partner at work and bad news for me. My weekend at JenningsGP has just turned into a solo flight. Which means I will have to work all night Thursday, then go home, put the bike in the back of the pickup truck, load all my junk; then drive 167 miles to get my 12K service done on my poor neglected S1000RR; turn around and drive 267 miles, about five more hours, from Marietta, GA to Jennings, FL and hope to make it there before the gate closes at 10PM or I’ll be sleeping outside the gate parked on the side of the road.
Let’s pretend for a moment that I don’t have the shittiest luck in the history of shitty luck and I make it to the track before they lock up. At this point, I wouldn’t have slept a wink in about 28 hours and I still have to set up my pit area and get the bike down the ramp by myself. Check it all over once again to make sure nothing’s rattled loose on the trip, and finish prepping and hopefully have time to catch a few hours of sleep before registration and tech at 7AM.
I am so dead.
I also seem to be one week into developing an inner ear infection, which I have to take care of later today by procuring myself some antibiotics. Hopefully they can squeeze me in at the doctor’s office. Hopefully, the vertigo will have abated somewhat before my first session on the track. Hopefully, I won’t have lap times above 1:35. Hopefully, I won’t look like a total douche out there since I have to represent. Chances are I’m going to be (yet again) the only female rider in the joint. I won’t be at the top of my game, that’s for sure. I’m not even 100% certain that this is such a good idea. As a matter of fact, I know it isn’t. But, that’s racing. Or so they say. And I haven’t even raced yet and I’m already knee-deep in “I might just regret this” territory.
It’s not going to be pretty. Hand me some Xanax, an overdose of caffeine, and my knee sliders, I’m going in! Or out. One or the other, not sure yet which it is going to be.
Note to self: Bring 50 gallon drum of sugar-free Red Bull, because not only does it give you wings, it also consistently shaves at least 2 seconds off your lap times and can be used as a projectile weapon in those rare cases where a low-flying wrench just won’t do.